OPINION: Coachella fashion has never been good, but now it’s horrible

The hashtag “#coachella” has more than 5.3 million posts on Instagram — which means there’s a lot of horrible outfits to sort through this year. 

However, my biggest gripe isn’t that people are wearing fast fashion (which they are) or that the looks don’t make sense (which they don’t); it’s that none of the outfits seem to fit anyone’s personal style. 

Social media influencers look like they’re trying to prove something, as if wearing a $300 Selki dress to a music festival in the desert will distract from the insecurity of not being a mainstream celebrity. It comes across as desperate and inauthentic which is a whole different problem with influencer culture. 

As for the regular people, I did see a few on TikTok and Instagram who looked normal. Girls sporting bike shorts and tennis shoes camping out look like real people attending a music festival. They weren’t the most fashionable individuals, but for something like Coachella, should you have to be? 

That’s the issue with Coachella: it’s not about music anymore. It hasn’t been since influencer culture started to take over the festival. Slowly, between 2017 and 2019, the festival’s fashion itself shifted from a boho-chic flower child look to a neon explosion disaster. 

Pre-2019 Coachella wasn’t perfect, either. While there was a more “festival” look to the fashion, the boho-chic aesthetic brought a host of culturally insensitive outfits. From Kendall Jenner to “Queen of Coachella” Vanessa Hudgens, cultural appropriation also seemed to be standard for the event.

 Then the festival shifted toward younger influencer culture, featuring Emma Chamberlain, Hannah Meloche and the other Dote girls. Their trip with the Dote Shopping app in 2018 started the style of Coachella that we know now. 

Coachella fashion is not wearable, affordable or realistic — which is OK. If you have the money to spend between $500 to $6,000 on a ticket alone, why not also wear a designer outfit, too? However, for a festival in the desert, I can’t imagine wearing heels or getting a personal celebrity stylist for a weekend music event. 

This year influencers continued to look ridiculous. James Charles wore a skin tight rainbow ensemble to showcase his speculated Brazilian butt lift — but that didn’t make the look fashionable. Likewise, hair influencer Brad Mondo’s full body pink fishnet get-up was not particularly stylish, either. 

The thing is, these influencers — and a lot of regular people — aren’t wearing clothes that fit their personal style. Nightlife attire is always going to be different from daily style, but that doesn’t mean personal flare should go away. 

Mondo, for example, usually dresses relatively plain. He wears a lot of big tees, sweatshirts and blazers, some patterned, mostly in black and white or red hues. He lets his hair be the most colorful, striking part of an outfit and tends to play with patterns a little bit — but only “trendier” ones, again usually in black and white. 

This example is why I cannot fathom Coachella fashion. I don’t understand abandoning all personal style for a festival that, at this point, is built around fashion. Personal style should be a reflection of one’s self, what you feel like you look best in and what fits you as a person. 

Coachella fashion and its culture reminds me too much of the conformity present with big brands like Abercrombie & Fitch in the early 2000s. The style might not be the same, but the assimilation to big name fast-fashion is. I hope to see a more diverse, personal style driven Coachella — but that wasn’t 2022. 

Curren Gauss (she/her) is a junior majoring in English with a minor in playwriting. She hopes to someday have a job.